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Physician Assistants picture    Physician Assistants image

Physician Assistants

Physician assistants (PAs) practice medicine under the supervision of physicians. They perform a wide array of health care services that were traditionally provided by doctors. They diagnose and treat illnesses. Physician assistants develop and implement treatment plans. Some PAs assist in surgeries. Their duties vary with their experience, training and state laws.

In many states, physician assistants are allowed to write prescriptions. In most states a physician assistant is allowed to treat patients while the doctor is out of the office. In some inner-city or rural clinics a physician assistant may be the primary care provider and a doctor may only be present one or two days per week. In these situations a physician assistant consults with a supervising doctor and other medical professionals as needed and as required by law.

Some PAs go to hospitals to check on patients. A physician assistants practice corresponds to the supervising physician's practice. The doctor will generally deal with the more complex medical cases and cases that are not routine for a physician assistant.

PAs are found in all areas of medicine. About half of physician assistants practice primary care medicine (family medicine, pediatrics and internal medicine). Many are involved in surgery or a surgical subspecialty.

Responsibilities

  • Examine and treat patients
  • Provide diagnostic and therapeutic services
  • Take medical histories
  • Order and interpret laboratory tests
  • Treat minor injuries
  • Provide preventive healthcare services
  • Order or carry out therapy
  • Assist doctor's during surgeries

Job Characteristics

A physician assistant's work schedule may vary according to the work hours of the supervising physician and the medical practice environment. PAs that work in clinics typically work 40 hours per week. Those working in hospitals may work at night, during weekends or work early in the morning to visit patients.

Employment Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has forecasted a 39 percent employment growth for physician assistants from 2008 to 2018 which is much faster than the average for all occupations. The employment growth is due to an emphasis on cost containment and the expansion of healthcare industries. Physician assistants are cost effective.

The median annual earnings for physician assistants in 2008 was $81,230. The highest paid 10 percent earned more than $110,240.

Education, Certification, and Licensing

Physician assistant education programs typically take at least two years to finish. Most of these programs are at allied health schools, medical schools, academic health centers and four-year colleges. Many physician assistant accredited programs have clinical teaching affiliations with medical schools. The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant provides accreditation for physician assistant educational programs.

Most candidates for physician assistant educational programs have earned a college degree and have some health-related work experience. However, admissions requirements vary by program. many PAs have prior work experience as registered nurses, emergency medical technicians and paramedics. After graduation, they partake in continual medical education programs and they also acquire more knowledge via their interaction with doctors and other healthcare providers.

Some schools for physician assistants provide many of the classes that are provided to medical students. Physician assistant educational programs include classroom learning, time in laboratories and supervised clinical training in several areas including family medicine, surgery, internal medicine, prenatal care, gynecology, pediatrics, emergency medicine and geriatrics.

Every state has legislation that governs the practice of physician assistants. Every jurisdiction requires PAs to pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination which is provided by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. To remain certified, PAs must complete 100 hours of continual education every two years. Every six years they are required to pass a re-certification examination or complete an alternative program which combines a take-home examination and learning experience.

Resources

Major Employers

The top employers are physician offices, hospitals and outpatient health care centers.

Schools for Physician Assistants are listed in the Browse Schools Section.

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Physician Assistants

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Physician Assistants jobs , as of 2016

     
Metro Area Total Employment Annual Mean Salary
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim 2,560 $102,010
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell 2,300 $103,190
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington 2,180 $96,420
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward 1,960 $119,040
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn 1,900 $82,950
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale 1,780 $91,130
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land 1,750 $100,270
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood 1,630 $98,700
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson 1,580 $92,590
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach 1,510 $104,440

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Employment
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Total employment and salary for professions similar to physician assistants

Career Stories (Job Profiles) for Physician Assistants

To find out more about building a career as Physician Assistants, we spoke with professionals in the field across a variety of specialties. Learn about their experiences on the job, the steps they took to complete their education, and what it takes to excel in this industry. Click the link to see a story.

All Types

Source : 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, BLS.gov

Most Popular Industries for
Physician Assistants

These industries represent at least 1% of the total number of people employed in this occupation.

Industry Total Employment Percent Annual Median Salary
Medical Office 47,450 66% $80,400
Hospital 17,660 24% $84,850
Government 3,060 4% $78,660
Education 1,970 2% $74,220
Office Services And Staffing 900 1% $87,300
Click the Visit School Site buttons to go directly to a school's website and learn more about the school and programs it has to offer. School website will open in a new tab.
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Results:  10
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Programs
  • Medical Assistant (10-Month Diploma Program)
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  • Dental Assistant (10-Month Diploma Program)
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Fresno
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  • Medical Assistant
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  • Offers a free trial period so students can attend classes before paying tuition.
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  • Gives students the chance to participate in externships and clinical training work under the general supervision of college staff.
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Los Angeles
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Programs
  • Medical Assisting
  • Respiratory Therapy
  • A Los Angeles-based private college offering programs in medical sciences, legal studies, and graphic design since 1985.
  • Has weekend programs, including certified  veterinary technology, nurse assistant, and hemodialysis technician.
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  • 3 campuses in Southern California.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
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Ontario
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Programs
  • Medical Assistant
  • Dental Assistant
  • Medical Billing and Coding
  • Offers career placement assistance services to recent graduates.
  • Our short-term allied health programs will give you the skills and knowledge to become a part of the exciting health care field.
  • Programs include Medical Office Specialist, Medical Assistant, Dental Assistant and Healthcare Administration.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
  • Main campus is located in Van Nuys, California, north of Los Angeles.
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Panorama City
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Programs
  • Medical Assistant
  • Morning, afternoon, evening and weekend classes are available.
  • Offers lifetime career assistance services to graduates, including resume and cover letter assistance, employer networking, and one-on-one employment counseling.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET).
  • 8 campuses located across California, with 3 additional campuses in New Hampshire and Maine and online options.
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Fairfield
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Programs
  • Medical Assistant
  • Medical Office Specialist
  • Dental Assistant
  • Offers accelerated programs w/ flexible schedules & professional instruction
  • Multiple accredited campuses across 9 states including CA, TX, NV, & PA
  • 10 + programs including Practical Nursing, Dental and Medical Assisting
  • Provides professional development training & career planning resources
  • Military Student Center (MSC) is committed to the success of military students
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Bakersfield
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Programs
  • Medical Specialties (AOS)
  • Respiratory Therapy (AS)

The Secret to Getting Ahead is Getting Started

 

Congratulations! Your interest in California College San Diego is an important first step toward changing your life. A career-focused degree is the key to a new career with a potentially higher income, better benefits, and more satisfaction.

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San Diego
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Programs
  • Certificate - Medical Assistant
  • Degree - Medical Assistant
  • Degree - Medical Office
  • Many programs require externships, allowing students to gain real-world experience.
  • Approved A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) since 1984.
  • Offers 22 accelerated, career-focused program options including business administration, medical assisting, and more.
  • Regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
  • 11 campuses across California, with an online division as well.
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Ontario
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Programs
  • Medical Billing Assistant - Certificate
  • Medical Front Office Assistant - Certificate
  • Physical Therapy Aide - Certificate

Trade schools in Los Angeles are built on a solid foundation of academic experience, especially Advanced College in South Gate. The founders of Advanced College have 40 years of experience when they opened their own institute of higher learning in 1999, which means Advanced College was student-oriented from day one. Our reputation as a leading vocational nursing & Allied Health school in Los Angeles is well-established, but that is just the beginning. Our expansive South Gate Campus has grown in our time as a school in order to make room for our daily operations. However, our expansion goes beyond the boundaries of our walls.

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Stockton
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Programs
  • Medical Assistant Program
  • Physical Therapy Aide/Sports Rehab Program
  • Medical Billing and Coding Specialist Program
  • Offers training in various types of massage therapy, physical therapy/sports rehab, and personal fitness training & wellness.
  • Teaches in an environment that promotes learning and encourages empathetic and compassionate therapists.
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Reseda
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We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Physician Assistants.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

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